A Memorable, Riveting, Nasty Debate -- but Will It
Change the Direction of the Race?
This was one of the most memorable debates in history.
It was perhaps the debate that American politics has been
cultivating for a quarter of a century, marking as it did the nadir of the bitter partisanship and personal rancor that has steadily grown like weeds over the edifice of American government.
It featured two of the most disliked candidates in modern
history taking lumps out of each other - with accusations
of sexual assault and defending rape and repeated
allegations of deceit and mendacity.
And yet, will it change the contours of the race after an
astonishing few days? The initial exchange of fire in
the wake of the release of Mr. Trump's crudely offensive
remarks captured on videotape on Friday, followed by a
moment in which Mr. Trump apparently threatened to try to
put Mrs. Clinton in jail if he is elected (a threat that, as some
have commented, looks like something close to an
unprecedented authoritarian turn in American politics) were
as electrifying as anything in a presidential debate.
Once that dust had settled, though, Mr. Trump succeeded,
much better than he did in the first debate, in hitting Mrs
Clinton on key policy issues of health care, immigration and
foreign policy. He was sharper on his feet and had some of
the most memorable lines of the night. His lampooning of
her calling Abraham Lincoln in defense of her Wall Street
speeches won spontaneous applause and laughter from
many sides of the hall.
The two somehow managed to end with a kind word (just one really) for each other and thehandshake that they had denied each other at the start.
But this was raw and angry politics as blood sport and
served perhaps only to underscore even more how
unappetizing political debate has become.
Gerard Baker-DOW JONES
The final presidential debate that will take place at the University
of Nevada, Las Vegas a comes up on the 19h of October.